Nepal Today

Thursday, July 18, 2013



Kathmandu, 19 July: Harisaini

Ekasdji was observed Friday.

Tulasi is planted and is worshipped.

Chaturmash brath also begins






Kathmandu, 19 July: The Chinese media were quick to cover the firestorm kicked off by the dash six of our former prime ministers made toward visiting Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid. “Many perceive that Nepali leaders should abandon the tendency of bowing their head to low-ranking Indian officials,” Xinhua news agency gleefully reported in a dispatch widely covered by Chinese outlets, Maila Baje writes in Nepali Netbook.
The Indian media ran equally fast with that Xinhua report, and with that additional subtext: No matter how loud these men might rail against us at times, in the end…
Then came the blizzard of editorializing and opinionating in the Nepali media. What these six hapless men may or may not have discussed with the esteemed visitor was drowned out.
Doubtless, the sight was unseemly – before and after. One ex-premier cut short a trip to Singapore to be with Khurshid, who himself had abbreviated his trip. A former deputy prime minister later publicly regretted having met with the Indian dignitary.
Maila Baje recognizes that the affair represented an egregious breach of the code of conduct introduced by the previous government, which barred former prime ministers from meeting lower ranking foreign guests at their hotel. Moreover, the former prime ministers did not take consent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the meetings, which the code also stipulates. Making matters worse, Khurshid asserted that he had not invited anyone to his hotel.
Yet, in the end, what we all saw was perfectly understandable in its wider context. Khurshid and his interlocutors merely underscored the basic reality gripping Nepal since we started out on our rapturous march toward national renewal.
Throughout this process, the Indians have carefully avoided reminding us directly who’s in the driver’s seat. But to a different audience – and for a different imperative – they continue to take great pride in having forged the alliance between the mainstream parties and Maoist rebels against the monarchy.
Then foreign minister (and now President) Pranab Mukherjee was only among the more candid Indians when he pointed out this ‘feat’ of Indian diplomacy during that interview on Al Jazeera a couple of years ago. (And that discerning assertion of the Indian version of the Monroe Doctrine became part of a resume enhancer for Mukherjee.)
The Wikileaks cables covering the 2005-2006 period bear out what was known all along. Yet we still have Indian apologists in our politics and media asking us: “Do you really think Indians spend their entire waking hours plotting how to destabilize Nepal?” Ridicule your critics, and no rebuttal is necessary. Alinskyites are ensconced everywhere these days.
The Indians made a rather safe bet on the Chinese vis-à-vis Nepal. Since familiarity eventually breeds contempt, New Delhi thought it would let Nepalis themselves figure out whose stifling embrace they abhorred more.
The crux of the matter is very much within. After our 2006-2008 hopey-changey high, we went downhill. We began hating the Maoists for being Maoists and the Nepali Congress for being the Nepali Congress, and so on. Sensing the ifs and buts running through our collective DNA, the political parties, largely under Indian tutelage, began assembling a patchwork of compromises and foisting them as bold turns in the peace process. And we went along, still wailing and moaning. Ultimately, the parties can’t change who they are. Nor can we change who we are.
So maybe it’s time to try a different tack. Let the Indians take open charge of the process. And let us wholeheartedly welcome it. If the Indians help us reach where we Nepalis think we should get to, then what would we have to complain? If not, it’s not as if we’d ever have to stop castigating them for constantly pushing us around.



Kathmandu, 19July: For some time at the beginning, Ram Baran Yadav, elected president in 2008, tried his level best to give an impression that he was all for upholding the interim constitution both in letter and spirit. Today, his, too, is a much criticized institution. In the first year or two, he is reliably learnt to have appeared very ill at ease when confronting people who were considered far senior to him till the election eve, Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review.
He confided to his close circle among Terai-based community members that he would not have been in the head of the state’s seat if the Nepali Congress’ ailing Chief Girija Prasad Koirala had any chance of becoming the country’s first president. By the time the jumbo-size 601-member Constituent Assembly arbitrarily extended its two-year term repeatedly, Yadav had gained enough confidence to give hints to political party leaders that he would not hesitate to put his foot down if it came to the “question of constitutionalism.”
Girija Prasad Koirala treated him quite casually sermonizing how the president should act in the “challenging days ahead amidst the treacherous Maoists who are never to be trusted.” In his new role as the head of the state, Yadav was uncomfortable looking straight into Koirala’s face. He confessed this to his coterie, although he wishes that he had not said so in order to maintain a different posture, that is, of a very confident, capable, knowledgeable guardian of the Nepali people.
Apparently, Yadav has not heard what comments UCPN (Maoist) supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal makes on him. When actually meeting the president, Dahal humors him and this has earned presidential appreciation. The president’s handpicked advisors nickname the Maoist boss “Bhalay” (or Cock). Yadav appreciates CPN (UML) leader, too, for his treatment of the president.  It was something unpleasantly different with Baburam Bhattarai when the latter was at Baluwatar.
Shital Niwas sources tell this author that of the four communist prime minister, elected one after another during the inordinately extended CA, Jhala Nath Khanal and Baburam Bhatarai were too cold for his liking. UML president Khanal was too correct and formal, and his body language suggested that the president was only a titular figure unlike the constitutional monarchy under the 1990 constitution. Bhattarai, Dahal’s deputy in party, was cold, curt and calculating for the president’s comfort. Yadav would prefer a Dahal any time than Bhatarai, the same sources say.
While the president and his coterie have their own perceptions and size political leaders likewise, how do others view Yadav? First thing first: A president is known by the company he keeps. The posse of salaried advisors he is surrounded with and the coterie of well-wishers, actually seeking favors and recommendations, does not make an impressive list, dominated by mediocrity and infected by personal prejudices.
It has come to be confirmed by reliable sources that a number of Yadav’s advisors frequent private receptions and gatherings organized by INGO types and foreign missions at the level of embassy secretary or equivalent. Ironically, these advisors are supposed to have been accorded the status just below the cabinet ministers. This happens in only loktantrik Shital Niwas and nowhere else in South Asia or other parts of the world.
The main reason for the partyless panchayat to have lasted 29 years, despite armed revolutions and such other violent activities by the banned political parties, was the deep-seated fear among the people across the length and breadth of the country that chaos which marked the 1951-60 decade might play havoc with their lives. The people’s fear proved to be justified over and over again in the loktantrik years. It was the same reason during the partyless decades as well.
The partyless character of the panchayat was bound to be replaced by multiparty form of political system. It was only a question of time. King Mahendra in 1971 had already commissioned a respected legal eagle like Shambhu Prasad Gyawali to come up with a draft for a multiparty form of governance. Death, however, snatched the king away in early 1972, and the successor King Birendra wanted to avoid being seen as having negated his father who had propounded the partyless panchayat. The son hoped for reforming the polity without political parties. King Mahendra’s panchayat years were but 12 while King Birendra’s panchayat rule lasted for more than 17 years.
About 60 political activists who propagated armed revolution and actually took to arms were listed as “known martyrs” when the ban on political parties was lifted in 1990 and the interim government under Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai sounded disappointed that the number traced was “so small.”  For within days after he took over, Bhattarai had publicly announced that there were “about 500 people who had attained martyrdom during the panchayat period.”
In loktantrik years, the definitions of martyrs and the scope of martyrdom have been overstretched so much that a barrage of complaints is echoed from the general public barring the so-called civil society leaders who try to justify donor money they obtain, the agendas set by the parties they are associated with or the limelight more than anything else they crave for.
Maoist leaders lived a life of luxury on the outskirts of New Delhi under RAW’s hospitality and security while their cadres fought in the jungles of Nepal. According to Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, they had spent no less than eight and a half years in Noida. But they are the ones who have arrogated themselves the fruits of what they call loktantra.
As an example, Hisila Yami is to the Maoists what Sujata Koirala is to the Nepali Congress. Yami owes much of her meteoric rise in her party to the fact that she is married to Bhattarai. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, reading his deputy Bhattarai’s psychology, had both the husband and wife in his government. Pampha Bhushal’s contributions and capability are widely thought to be much more impressive than those of Yami’s. But then the “forward-looking” not yet split Maoists thought otherwise, at least in practice. Bhushal is now in Mohan Baidya’s party as a prominent leader with effective contributions. Yami confines her activity only in Kathmandu Valley.
When Yami “led” a team of newspaper editors and other journalists to China in 2012, she constantly criticized and undermined Bhattarai, according to a member in the team. The Chinese obliged her repeated requests to visit their country and designated her head of a journalists’ team but many editors who had earlier accepted the invitation dropped out when they came to realize that Yami was to lead them.
With such political parties headed by such leaders, what can be expected in the foreseeable future?



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